Health insurance can be challenging to navigate. There are many plan options to consider including Medicare, individual and family plans, and health insurance marketplace plans. Additionally, plan types vary widely with decisions such as PPO or HMO, deductible and out-of-pocket maximums, and monthly premiums to consider. Read on to find out what is the best health insurance, learn more about different plans that may be available in your area and how they compare.
To help you find your way in the complicated sea of health insurance, we’ve reviewed many health insurance plans and fished out the essential information, so you can make the best decision for your healthcare needs.
Best health insurance companies: the shortlist
To choose the best health insurance companies, we looked at customer satisfaction, affordability, and coverage to determine which ones had the most to offer. We looked for plans that provide sufficient coverage based on various patient needs to make finding the best plan easier for you.
- Kaiser Permanente – best health insurance for low-cost options
- Blue Cross Blue Shield – best for nationwide coverage
- Aetna – best for young adults and families
- UnitedHealthcare – best customer service rating
- Humana – best for Medicare
- Cigna – best pharmacy coverage
Information provided below is limited to the health insurance plans we analyzed. Besides, each situation is unique, thus, there might be other health insurance plans more appropriate to you or your family's individual needs. We always recommend making a comparison among all available health insurance plans, considering both the benefits and drawbacks, in order to find the best option for yourself. The following companies are our top picks in each of the six categories.
Best insurance companies in 2023
The following six companies were rated, reviewed, and determined by us to be the best for affordability, coverage, and customer satisfaction.
1. Kaiser Permanente – best for low-cost options
Kaiser Permanente is a non-profit managed care organization that combines health insurance and health services with its “coordinated care” model. Although only available in eight states (California, Georgia, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, and Virginia), Kaiser has some lowest-cost comprehensive plans available.
In addition to its low-cost plans, Kaiser also offers charitable health coverage if you don’t qualify for public or private coverage. Extra benefits, such as an exercise program, glasses, hearing aids, and over-the-counter options, make Kaiser a well-rounded program with additional benefits.
2. Blue Cross Blue Shield – best nationwide coverage
Blue Cross Blue Shield offers coverage in all 50 states and provides nationwide coverage for its members. With 1.7 million doctors and hospitals in-network, Blue Cross Blue Shield is one of the most widely accepted plans in the U.S. and even includes coverage in over 200 countries, making it a great choice for world travelers.
Low-cost plans are available through Blue Cross Blue Shield. They offer corporate, individual, Medicaid, and Medicare plans. Dental and vision plans are also available. Free health and wellness discounts are offered through the Blue 365 program.
3. Aetna – best for young adults and families
Aetna, partnered with CVS Health, has low-cost plans and convenient, easy-to-access healthcare. With various HMOs, PPOs, and EPOs available, Aetna provides nationwide coverage at an affordable price.
With the CVS Minute Clinic, Aetna customers have $0 sick visits, free screenings, and preventive care. Telehealth is also available 24/7. In addition, the Attain by Aetna app allows members to track their health in real time and monitor their insurance plans.
Vision and dental plans are also available through Aetna.
With its wide selection of providers, nationwide coverage, and affordable rates, Aetna is a great choice for young adults and families who need a good plan at a low cost.
4. UnitedHealthcare – best for customer ratings
United offers plans for individuals, small businesses, Medicare, and Medicaid. United is the only insurance company partnered with AARP, making it a good option for those over 65. Short-term plans are also available.
United is also affordable, with plans averaging $400 per month for individuals and $1,200 per month for families. With 1.3 million healthcare providers and 6,500 hospitals accepting United nationwide, finding care in your area is easy.
Above all else, United has the highest customer satisfaction ratings of any health insurance provider. United has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and an easy-to-use app with high customer satisfaction ratings.
5. Humana – best for Medicare
Humana is a great option for those looking for Medicare coverage. With the Medicare Advantage plan, Humana costs as low as $0 per month for PPO and HMO plans. Humana PPO plans allow flexibility to choose your provider, but can save you money if you choose an in-network preferred provider.
Humana is available in all 50 states, making it one of the most accessible plans available. In addition, Humana has one of the highest ratings for customer satisfaction.
Humana’s mail-order prescription pharmacy makes prescriptions more affordable for its members. While all plans don’t include prescription coverage, Humana does offer stand-alone prescription plans.
6. Cigna – best for pharmacy coverage
With its Express Scripts Home Delivery Pharmacy, Cigna has some of the best prescription coverage available. Cigna offers low cost EPO and HMO plans. Although its availability is limited to only 16 states, Cigna is accepted by 1.5 million healthcare providers.
Cigna’s other advantages include access to a free 24/7 call center and free virtual medical visits.
With free virtual care and free prescription home delivery, Cigna allows you to get everything you need without ever leaving your home.
Best health insurance companies: a comparison
The following table provides a quick glance comparing our top health insurance companies for 2023.
|Kaiser Permanente||Over 23,000||8 states||$|
|Blue Cross Blue Shield||1.7 million||50 states, 200 countries||$|
|Aetna||Over 35,000||8 states||$$|
|UnitedHealthcare||1.3 million||18 states||$$$|
|Cigna||1.5 million||16 states||$$$|
How we ranked these health insurance providers
When determining the rankings for the companies with the best health insurance in September 2023, we considered several key factors to assess their overall value for individuals and families. The following points were taken into consideration during the ranking process:
- Overall value. We evaluated the overall value offered by each health insurance provider. This included considering the comprehensiveness of coverage, customer satisfaction ratings, and the affordability of their plans.
- Availability in states. We assessed the availability of each health insurance company across different states in the United States. We considered the breadth of their network and the extent to which they provided coverage in various regions.
- Number of in-network providers. The number of in-network healthcare providers is crucial for ensuring convenient access to medical services. We analyzed the size of each insurer's network and the availability of healthcare professionals within their network.
- Plan features and coverage. We examined each health insurance provider's range of plan features and coverage options. This included evaluating the availability of dental coverage, different plan types such as Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), and the variety of metal levels (bronze, silver, gold, etc.) to cater to different needs.
How to pick the best insurance plan?
Once you choose a plan, you typically can't make changes until open enrollment season the following year unless you have a qualifying life event. That makes selecting the right plan even more critical. However, before you select the best plan, it helps to know the lingo.
Here are some standard terms you will encounter in your research:
- Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). HMOs limit coverage to providers who are contracted with their network. They typically do not cover out-of-network care, except in the case of emergencies.
- Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). PPOs typically have a larger network of providers to choose from and do not force you to see specific providers, but you will pay less if you see an in-network provider.
- Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO). EPOs also limit coverage to doctors, specialists, and hospitals who are part of the organization. They do not cover out-of-network care except for emergencies.
Once you know what type of plan you are looking for, consider the following criteria:
What is the deductible amount? The deductible is the amount you must pay before your insurance coverage kicks in. Higher deductible plans typically have lower monthly payments.
- Is there a copay? Co-pays, normally ranging between $20-$40, may be required for each provider visit or covered prescription. Copay amounts differ from plan to plan.
- What is the monthly premium? The monthly premium is the amount you pay the insurance company each month. Typically, the higher the monthly premium, the lower the deductible.
- Are there other benefits? Some plans include dental or vision coverage and may offer discounts or rewards for healthy habits and purchases.
- Can the plan be used when I travel? Some companies provide coverage for care in other states and countries, while others require you to purchase a separate travel plan.
Why do I need health insurance?
The world is unpredictable. You never know when an illness or injury will occur. When that happens, it’s important to know that you can get the care that you need. Without insurance, ER costs can run thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars. You don’t want to be in a situation where you must think about cost before heading to the ER.lan
Health insurance coverage helps to bring peace of mind in times of crisis and allows you to get the preventive care you need to keep you healthy.
Health insurance can be confusing, but finding a good plan at a good price is possible if you know what you’re looking for. Consider your current state of health and possible future health needs, and choose a plan that has coverage for your needs. Consider extra costs like co-pays and deductibles before deciding on an option. The right plan is out there. Use the aforementioned tips to find what you’re looking for.
Does health insurance in the U.S. vary by state?
Health insurance coverage and rules do vary from state to state. Companies must be licensed in each state to provide coverage to residents. Most companies operate in just a few states and do not provide nationwide coverage. However, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, United Healthcare, and Aetna are exceptions — those companies provide coverage in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Not only are companies not licensed to operate in certain states, but some also do not provide coverage for care received outside your state of residence. Managed care plans like Kaiser only cover care received at one of their own facilities. Other companies limit coverage to the states in which they are licensed or your state.
Some companies offer short-term travel plans that would provide coverage if you travel out of state or out of the country. These come at an additional cost and vary depending on your insurance company and current plan.
Please be aware that benefits and costs can vary greatly by location, individual health insurance plan, and by type and value of the benefits chosen. Make sure that you understand all conditions of the health insurance plan you decided to enroll in, including the availability of the benefits and their costs in a particular service area where you reside.
Read more about other health insurance policies
Which health insurance provider is best for the self-employed?
While most insurance companies offer plans for small businesses, some are better than others. Aetna and Cigna both have excellent plans available for small businesses. Aetna plans are eligible for the highest tax credits in some income brackets.
How to find the best value for your money?
When looking for an insurance plan, you need to consider more than just the monthly premiums. Other things to consider are the costs associated with deductibles, co-pays, and the maximum out-of-pocket limit. It’s also important to make sure that you can find a provider in your area that accepts your insurance plan.
Which companies offer insurance in all 50 states?
Blue Cross Blue Shield is available in all 50 states and offers coverage in 200 countries. Aetna also has nationwide coverage.